In this activity, students start at the pumpkin next to the boy. In each pumpkin, they put a number and either a subtraction or an addition sign to show the operation. The final number must equal the number on the pumpkin by the pumpkin patch sign.
Begin by modeling: The first time you introduce this type of puzzle, you need to model it with the entire class. I have included a demo wheet which you can use to model how to solve these puzzles. Simply project a challenge onto the whiteboard, and work the puzzle with the class together. The thing to demonstrate is that there is NO ONE CORRECT WAY to create a pumpkin path. There are multiple ways to arrive at the ending number! I also suggest “thinking out loud” so the kiddos can hear your thought processes as you go about completing the task.
One thing I suggest to model is to write the numbers beside each pumpkin to help the kiddos keep up with where they are along the path. I challenge my advanced kiddos to try to find at least 5 different ways to solve the puzzle – there are probably thousands, but 5 will do! I chose to do this activity with pumpkins since it is November, but you can use Christmas ornaments, hearts, flowers, shamrocks, etc. for any other season.
As an extra challenge, you can have your students write a story about a visit to the pumpkin patch, and they have to include the problems in the pumpkin path in their story. (see example below) I have included both black and white and color versions of all the puzzles, a blank puzzle so you can create your own challenges, AND a recording sheet.
I like to project a puzzle on the whiteboard and have the students work to complete it. There is a recording sheet for the students to write their answers. You can put the worksheet in a sheet protector so the kiddos can use dry erase markers. I also like to have dry erase mats at the table, so the students can use dry erase mats to write computations. You can have the students work independently or in pairs. I like to challenge the high achievers to see how many different paths they can create!
In a Center: When I place these challenges in a center, I like to print them out in color and then laminate them so students can write on the sheets with dry erase markers and then record their answers on an answer sheet. I will also just print out a worksheet and put it in a dry erase sleeve or a sheet protector.
End of the Day Wrap Up: I like to give one of these out during the last 5-10 minutes of class. According to research, kids remember best the first and last things they do at school, so this is a great way to keep your kiddos on the ball and have something neat to share with their family when they get home.
Homework: Let the kiddos take on of the puzzles home to work on, or better yet, have them create their own puzzles! Many of your high achievers are probably used to sailing through mos of their assignments, and this activity will take some real thinking. They might have to erase and/or start over at times. Then, there will always be those kiddos who want to rush through and so they give responses like 2 plus 1 plus one plus one… With this type of kiddo, I have to make some guidelines – like you can’t use any number more than twice, or you have to use at least 3 two digit numbers. I like to challenge them to use BIG numbers. How about 2 plus 68? and questions like that.
If this activity is daunting to some of your kiddos, this is the perfect time to talk about those Habits of Mind such as Persistence or Perseverance.
Be sure to download your free copy of these challenges and have a great week! Check back soon for another freebie and challenge to add rigor to your math lessons.